Culture champions do something for your internal communication that other tactics can’t do, deliver the human touch.
Think about it. How many of us will buy a product because somebody we know and respect recommended it? According to Nielsen, 88% of respondents in their “Trust in Advertising Study” said that they trust recommendations from people they know, above all other forms of marketing channels.
The same holds true in your organization. You’ll get far more employee engagement when people hear something from an enthusiastic coworker at lunch, than from reading a flyer in their inbox. Culture champions are those trusted pillars of support in your organization who can inspire others to act. They have keen insight into the conversation going on inside your business, which is what shapes your organizational culture.
So, take advantage of the unique power of culture champions as influencers to amplify your internal communication and support a strong company culture.
Here are 3 steps to get started.
Step 1: Gather your team
There are two ways to build a team of culture champions depending on the size of your company and your employee demographics.
- You can appoint champions by either soliciting potential internal candidates, or by making culture champion responsibilities part of a job description. Consider managers: They can be some of your best culture champions. Their direct relationships with employees make them strong influencers.
- Or, you can recruit volunteers and let the natural advocates in your organization step up. These people are already highly engaged and passionate about your company’s trajectory and will work hard to promote your initiatives as a result.
Either way, your champions should be a diverse group of trusted influencers who are confident, and skilled at verbal communication. They should also come from all levels and functions in your organization. What’s important is that they’re passionate about your company’s mission, purpose and values, and believe that a strong company culture has a significant impact on business success.
Keep in mind that designating champions is simply acknowledging what they already do, directing their passion, and giving them the resources to do more of it so they have an even stronger influence.
Here is a list of qualities that the best culture champions show consistently:
- Act with integrity. They are honest, reliable and treat others with respect. Most importantly, culture champions earn people’s trust by keeping conversations confidential.
- Aren’t afraid to make changes. Culture champions see the value in change and can communicate why change is necessary. Remember, it’s people who drive behavioral change in an organization, not business plans or processes.
- Get things done. Culture champions are resourceful and skilled at turning obstacles into opportunities. If they don’t know the solution, they know where to look and will collaborate with others to achieve results.
- Guide and encourage others. They instill confidence in others and inspire people to act. They are patient, supportive and willing to mentor their coworkers to acquire and practice new skills and abilities.
Step 2: Set them up for success
Once you have your culture champions, make it easy for them to do their job. To successfully promote your internal communication goals, they need the right tools and knowledge. And remember, you’re not turning them into champions, you’re helping them be the champions they already are.
Consider these communication strategies:
- Establish monthly calls. By meeting regularly, you can keep your culture champions informed about what’s going on in the company. Culture champions are your “A Team,” so let them be the first to know about new company benefits, programs and processes. Ask for their feedback and opinions. Give them real ownership of what they are championing.
- Set expectations. Being a culture champion involves a time commitment. Despite their passion, your champions most likely have a full plate of responsibilities already. It’s a good idea to establish roles and responsibilities for each team member to be respectful of their time and work/life balance. But remind them that most of their role as culture champions is weaving their infectious positivity and influencing power into their daily work environment.
- Provide the right tools. Give your champions access to the tools and platforms they need to get the word out. Give them quick access to easily digestible information for them to absorb and pass on. Provide internal comms like talking points, email signature messages or branded sticky notes for writing words of encouragement to their peers.
Step 3: Keep them engaged
Culture champions are an exclusive group, so make them feel special. Give them the VIP treatment. Provide them with additional training opportunities. Send them to seminars, treat them to on-site speakers or bring them together for an exclusive event.
Politico gathered its culture champions for an inaugural summit where they shared action plans, participated in relationship-building activities and heard from a guest speaker about the art of influencing without authority. “A Team” players value growth, so sponsoring activities that help your culture champions learn from each other and expand their skills are especially rewarding.
Another way to keep your culture champions feeling special and engaged is to surprise them with special perks, like gift cards or branded swag like pens or key chains. After all, they have the same human needs as anyone for feeling recognized and appreciated at work. And you don’t want the good ones to get away!
If we’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, it’s that people are more than happy to leave their current jobs because they feel the company isn’t doing enough for them. A report by Gallup and Workhuman revealed that by making recognition an important part of company culture, a 10,000-person organization with an already engaged workforce can save up to $16.1 million annually due to reduced employee turnover.
The bottom line
When you unleash the power of your culture champions to elevate your internal communication, their integrity and enthusiasm can quickly become viral. Before you know it, you’ll be the company with the committed, engaged workforce that’s viewed as the gold standard for a terrific place to work.